The biggest myths in photography

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Jeremy Gray

posted Tuesday, April 19, 2022 at 4:30 PM EDT



Successful photography requires practical, theoretical and artistic skills. This compelling blend of skills helps make photography so appealing, but it also leaves a lot of room for people to create myths. One such myth is the idea of the ‘eye’ in photography and that only certain people have a natural gift for creating great images. Adam Karnacz of First Man Photography discusses this idea and some of the other ‘biggest myths’ in photography in his latest video.

Myths aren’t necessarily bad, but it’s easy to miss key nuances and details if you latch onto one and take it as gospel. Going back to the idea of the ‘eye’ in photography, this myth is dangerous because it can pass the buck. A beginner photographer who thinks that artistic talent is innate or natural may look at a great photographer’s work and think, ‘Yeah, but they’ve got something I don’t and will never have, so I’ll never be able to capture photos that nice.’ It’s easy to feel discouraged or even give up entirely if you subscribe to this idea. A talented photographer isn’t as good as they are because of just luck. They worked hard, and you can work hard, too.

How do you become a photographer that future beginners will look at and think, ‘They’ve got the photographic eye that I lack’? Karnacz believes it’s a four-step process. The tips are simple but could take a lifetime to master. The first step is to slow down and be intentional with your compositions. Next, carefully consider what you want to include in your frame and, perhaps as importantly, what you exclude from the frame. The third step is to study compositional rules and guidelines. You can – and will – break these rules, but it’s important to understand them first. Rounding out the four steps is learning about artistic elements such as shape, form, color, lines, value, space and texture.

All these steps and considerations will help you develop the skills encompassed in the term ‘the photographic eye.’ It’s not that some people, but not you, have a natural talent to compose great photos. They are simply more experienced and practiced and have put the time and effort into developing their skills. Rather than fall into the trap of believing that you can’t do what your favorite photographers do, time is better spent developing your photographic skills.

Of course, it’s not easy. The next myth Karnacz discusses is the idea that photography is easy. ‘One of the things that frustrates me deeply is when people say that photography is easy because I think ultimately this undermines it as the intricate and interesting art form that we all know and love,’ says Karnacz. Nearly everyone has a camera in their pocket in the form of a smartphone. The barrier to entry has been reduced, which is a great thing, but it’s given rise to the idea that a great photo is a simple point and click away. Anyone can get lucky and capture a great shot now and again, but to create a consistently high-quality body of work requires a lot more than just luck. Some of your favorite photos may have taken you only a fraction of a second to capture, but a lot of time and experience goes into that split-second exposure. Ideally, photography is so fun that time flies by and you enjoy the process, but that doesn’t negate the fact that you’ve likely put a lot of time and effort into your photos. Every photo you take is a culmination of all the time you’ve spent capturing previous photos and working to improve your skills. Your effort doesn’t deserve to be disrespected by the myth that photography is easy.

To learn about the final ‘biggest myth in photography,’ watch Karnacz’s video above. Spoiler alert, hearing about the third myth could make just about any photographer angry. For more of his videos, head to the First Man Photography YouTube channel. To stay up to date with his photography, follow Karnacz on Instagram.

(Via First Man Photography)